Construction is a large and complex worldwide industry constantly shaped by new information technologies, advanced materials, environmental policies, regulations and changing building methods. Most importantly, though, construction is shaped by people. Sustaining a strong industry requires attracting and valuing a skilled, career-driven, high quality workforce... who also like to build! How is the construction industry attracting the skilled workforce for future growth market demands? Do prospective candidates see construction as a viable career choice?

Construction craft professionals are among the happiest people in the workforce when they're employed by an ethical contractor who invests in their employees, a recently released report found.

The 2015 Best Industry Ranking Report by TINYpulse says construction professionals and facility service workers are the happiest, followed by people who work in consumer products, technology, and software. After that were telecom, energy, and utilities. Health care rounded out the top five. In last place was manufacturing.

But this survey was not simply a ranking of which employees are the happiest. There are lessons to be learned about why certain employees are much more satisfied by their work than others.    Read more » about Survey: Construction Workers Are the Happiest Employees

“Company man is going to be stopping by location today. I'll let you guys know around what time later when I find out. He's pretty particular, so make sure y’all have your PPE on when he's here.” 

Your safety-sense should be tingling about now for several reasons. I'd like to talk for a moment about the importance of taking personal responsibility for using personal protective equipment (PPE) effectively.

Safety is something that most construction companies take very seriously. Engineering controls, administrative controls, daily toolbox talks, and hazard identification/correction programs are just a few of the ways accidents are prevented every day. Vigilant foresight and an emphasis on industry best practices have successfully eliminated many occupational hazards in the construction industry, but the last line of defense against potentially costly and debilitating accidents is PPE. Some companies provide the necessary PPE for the job, and most construction companies provide in depth training on proper PPE usage; but that is where their safety reach ends.

When it comes to properly donning the safety harness and securing it to the man basket at a suitable anchor point in order to safely proceed with the job – that is my responsibility. When it comes to putting on safety glasses before hammering on a piece of rusty, paint-chipped iron – that is my responsibility. Putting on the correct respirator to prevent inhaling epoxy paint fumes – my responsibility.    Read more » about I Don't Always Wear PPE

On Friday, January 30, 2015 more than 280 individuals gathered to recognize companies and individuals who exemplify Excellence In Construction.  Winners in eight categories were announced at the 18th annual Excellence In Construction Awards Gala held at the Houston Junior League and hosted by the American Subcontractors Association.  The awards went to:

2014 General Contractor of the Year
D.E. Harvey Builders

2014 Architectural/Engineering Firm of the Year
Kirksey Architecture

2014 General Contractor Safety Award
D.E. Harvey Builders   Read more » about ASA-HC Excellence In Construction Award Winners

A few weeks ago, Saied Alavi, Director of Operations at Marek Brothers Houston, and I visited an active construction site on the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) campus.  The new Jennie Sealy Hospital is scheduled to be completed later this year and open for patients early next year.  We went there to talk with Gloria Palau, one of Marek’s workforce trainees, to learn about her experience with Marek since she entered her new career about a year ago.  Frank Villarreal, Safety Advisor for the project, met us at the check-in trailer, and walked us onto the site to the floor where Gloria was working that day.

I began by asking Gloria how she had learned about the career opportunities at Marek.  She explained that her brother had told her that through the training program at Marek, she would have an opportunity to learn about several different departments to then get an idea of which type of work she liked and wanted to learn more about.  Her brother had not worked at Marek himself, but had heard about Marek’s workforce development program through word of mouth from friends and relatives.    Read more » about Opening the Invisible Door [VIDEO]

If you know Chamberlin, you know we’re experts in roofing and waterproofing. But we have another core service that often stands in the shadow of some of our more noteworthy projects – garage maintenance and restoration.

Sure enough, standing adjacent to the office towers and venues we service is almost always a parking structure that also requires maintenance and repairs. Garages aren’t necessarily the sexiest part of a property, but they often represent a significant part of the overall investment. If parking structures aren’t properly maintained, repairs and restoration can be a tough job. That’s where Chamberlin comes in.

Heavy traffic wears out garage surfaces and deteriorates expansion joints that are designed to provide both parking and waterproof protection. Add to traffic the heavy load imposed by a large number of parked vehicles, wet weather, and fluctuating temperatures, and you’ve got a recipe for damage in an area that is easy to overlook when planning for maintenance.   Read more » about Give Your Parking Garage Some Love in 2015

It has been almost a year since I became the executive director of Construction Career Collaborative (C3). While I have learned a great deal during that short period of time, my biggest take away is that everyone with whom I have spoken agrees that the issue of creating a sustainable craft workforce is critical to the future of the commercial construction industry and all of those connected to it.

For many trades, the complexity of this issue is the challenge (lack of craft and safety training, misclassification of craft workers as subcontractors thereby avoiding payment of overtime and payroll taxes such as social security, and not providing employee benefits or workers’ compensation insurance coverage, all in the pursuit of low bid and covered up by a seeming limitless supply of undocumented workers who labor in the shadows, which depresses wages). All of which is why C3 needs the leadership and support of a critical mass of organizations in the A/E/C industry in order overcome it. We all must recognize that there is no quick resolution to a workforce problem that has been compounding itself for more than 30 years and that will require perseverance and sheer numbers of people who believe in the cause to correct it.    Read more » about Achieving Critical Mass

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama announced that he was going to propose a plan to Congress which would make “the first two years of community college free for everybody who is willing to work for it.”  He stated the importance of education not just for kids, but also to offer the opportunity for everybody to become better trained so that they could receive better jobs, wages, and benefits.  During his annual State of the Union Address on January 20, he explained why he believes this plan is so important.  He said,

“To make sure folks keep earning higher wages down the road, we have to do more to help Americans upgrade their skills.

“America thrived in the 20th century because we made high school free, sent a generation of GIs to college, and trained the best workforce in the world.  But in a 21st century economy that rewards knowledge like never before, we need to do more.   Read more » about Can Free Community College Close the Skills Gap?

A report from a bipartisan panel of Texas lawmakers says companies that pretend their employees are independent subcontractors are undermining free markets and encouraging illegal immigration, among other serious problems. The practice of worker misclassification, as Construction Citizen has reported many times, happens when an employer intentionally skirts the law by paying workers as independent subcontractors when they meet the legal definition of employees and should be paid as such.

Preventing workers from being paid as employees denies them basic protections and costs taxpayers millions each year because employers are avoiding payroll taxes on that labor. Employers who follow the law are investing in a sustainable workforce, which is undermined by worker misclassification. Many of those ethical employers have urged lawmakers to do more to contain what they’ve called “a cancer” in the heart of the construction industry.

So, the Texas House Business and Industry Committee this past year took an in-depth look at the issue, including testimony from construction industry leaders, labor advocates and others who are united in combating misclassification. Read more » about Texas House Panel finds that worker misclassification “compromises free markets” and promotes “lawlessness”